May 2017

1st May 2017, Monday
8.7 C to 15.3 C / trace / 4.9 hours / E 3-4
A cloudy but mild morning, the cloud thick enough to produce the odd spot of rain in late morning, but in the afternoon things would brighten up with spells of hazy sunshine for the remainder of the day, the day concluding with a fiery sunset over the Yorkshire Wolds to the west. Clear skies at first overnight but mist would form later with fog patches developing in rural areas by dawn.

Swinemoor – A cloudy but warm sort of morning down beside the river today, the main highlight being four Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta) feeding in the dwindling central floods (this following on from yesterday’s single Avocet at the same location). At least three Little Ringed Plovers (Charadrius dubius) were also seen along the water’s edge, as was a lone Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), a single Redshank (Tringa totanus) and the long staying Ruff (Philomachus pugnax). Overhead a trio (enough for a wisp?) of Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) passed over heading southwards, their strange but subtle call alerting me to their presence as they swept over, and as I watched them the call of a barking Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) could be heard to the east of the river (one of two Roes recorded this morning). Other observations of note included a pair of Stock dove (Columba oenas), a few singing Whitethroats (Sylvia communis) and a possible Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin) at the NW edge of the common (near the Swinemoor Lane roundabout).

Three of the four Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

North Cave Wetlands – We enjoyed an evening visit to this compact little nature reserve on what was a sunny and clement end to the first day of May. Our main reason for visiting was to catch up with the Black Terns (Chlidonias niger) which have been around the reserve over the weekend, 23 being recorded yesterday (a new reserve record), and within minutes of our arrival I managed to spot one flying around Village Lake. In the end two of these ‘dusky’ terns would be encountered this evening, this being the first time I have actually ever seen a Black Tern in breeding plumage (I have only seen autumn birds in the past), whilst a single Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) was also spotted, a new addition to my modest year list.

The sun setting over Village Lake

A family of Greylag Geese (Anser anser)

Record shot of one of the two Black Terns (Chlidonias niger)

Being spring it was waders which dominated the birding side of things, 50+ Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta) being noted around the reserve (most at Village Lake), as well as a few Little Ringed Plovers (Charadrius dubius), a single Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), Redshanks (Tringa totanus), the odd Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), at least four Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), up to nine Dunlin (Calidris alpina), a lone and somewhat unexpected Sanderling (Calidris alba), and a roosting Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) on the lagoon south-west of Crossland Hide (this lagoon also favoured by a variety of gulls and Shelducks).

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)

At Main Lake three Mediterranean Gulls (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus), including a pair, were among the usual throng of Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), the odd Common Gull (Larus canus) also being spotted in amongst the noisy and demonstrative Black-heads. A Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) meanwhile was spotted amongst the reeds south of Dryham Lane, whilst a variety of warblers were noted around the reserve, including Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis), Blackcap (S. atricapilla), Willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), Chiffchaff (P. collybita), Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) and Reed Warbler (A. scirpaceus). Finally the ‘jangly’ song of a Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra) was heard in the north-western corner of the reserve, the bird itself being spotted atop a tree just beyond the reserve.

Redshank (Tringa totanus)

Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)

Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)

2nd May 2017, Tuesday
6.5 C to 13.9 C / 0.0 mm / 0.8 hours / N 3-4
A misty start to the morning, indeed down by the river it was quite foggy at dawn, but as skies became cloudier this mist would soon clear to leave a mostly cloudy and unremarkable sort of day. However the odd break would develop from time to time allowing some short spells of hazy sunshine., especially around midday. Remaining mostly cloudy into the evening but overnight skies would begin to clear with mist patches again forming in rural areas.

Woldgarth Moths – A very disappointing night for mothing, the 15W Actinic only attracting three moths when I went to inspect the trap this morning, the second-half of the spring certainly proving to be less productive than the first-half (at least so far). The three moths were represented by two species with a single Pale Mottled Willow (Caradrina clavipalpis) and two Early Greys (Xylocampa areola), the Pale Mottled Willow being the second record of this species this year.

Swinemoor – Thick fog along the river and especially over the common meant that I could see no birds at all at dawn this morning, at least out on the floods anyway, but despite this I was able to watch and enjoy the antics of the Reed and Sedge Warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus and A. schoenobaenus), both species providing some rare opportunities to grab a few quick photos with my Nikon P900 bridge camera. The warm-ish and damp conditions also meant that many snails were apparent, especially along the reinforced river bank, species including Brown-lipped Banded Snails (Cepaea nemoralis) and my personal favourite, the good old humble Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum).

Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)

Brown-lipped Banded Snails (Cepaea nemoralis)

Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum)

3rd May 2017, Wednesday
5.0 C to 13.8 C / 0.0 mm / 3.5 hours / NE 4
A sunny and clement morning for the most part, albeit somewhat chilly at dawn, though by late morning skies would cloud over with the remainder of the day seeing largely grey skies, though in the evening the odd break would allow a little bit of brightness to end the day. Remaining mostly cloudy overnight.

Swinemoor / River Hull – A fine spring dawn down beside the river Hull with a few good birds about out on the common, including at least 5 Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) scattered across the area between the river and the ‘Barmy’ drain. Whimbrels have been reported on and off at Swinemoor during the past few weeks and it was good to finally catch up with them for myself. Another good observation came in the shape and form of a calling Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), by no means an annual observation around Beverley these days (at least for me), whilst over Grovehill Industrial Estate I spotted my first Swift (Apus apus) of the year, a single bird spotted amongst the more abundant Swallows and Sand Martins. Other observations this morning included a male Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) in the horse-churned up earth near the northern most patch of flood water, and a couple of Ruff (Philomachus pugnax).

One of at least 5 Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

A couple of Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)

Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

4th May 2017, Thursday
8.3 C to
A cloudy start to the day with a moderate north-easterly breeze, though by 9 am the early cloud would clear away to leave a fine morning with an abundance of May sunshine bathing the East Yorkshire countryside.

Swinemoor –

Woldgarth –